Google Blogsearch: Cool, but not quite

I just took a look at Google’s new blogsearch tool, and I have to say, it’s quite impressive. Search for perceiving attractiveness and it puts yesterday’s Cognitive Daily post right up top.

And check out the advanced search: it’s all blog specific. You can search by terms in a post title, by post author, by date, or within a single blog.

One thing that’s always bugged me about Google, however, is that it’s not very good at plagiarism-checking in blogs. If you want to see if someone’s been ripping you off, you should be able to enter a short phrase from one of your blog posts — something like this quote from a CogDaily article last February:

One of the most famous perceptual demos is the ambiguous image or “bi-stable figure” of a duck – rabbit

Enter that phrase into blogsearch (or a standard Google search) and this is all you get. Now enter the same search in Yahoo and the offending post pops right up. Interestingly, if I do the same type of search on a more recent blog post, Google does find it. Maybe it’s just not indexed back that far — after all, six months ago is ancient history in the blog world.

One of our concerns when we launched Cognitive Daily was that students in psychology classes would be able to crib essay topics from it. No problem, we thought, teachers can always catch them with a quick Google search. Unfortunately, they can’t — even searching Blogsearch won’t find articles from just last February. I actually conducted a little experiment to see how far back they go, and it seems like it’s about April. Search for a post in March, and you’ll come up with nothing. I wonder if blogsearch’s amnesia is permanent, or if its eventual goal is to search the entire blogosphere, including its history.

UPDATE: I’ve been playing around with the link: command in Google Blogsearch to see if it could be used as a faster, better Technorati. Unfortunately, it really can’t. If you do a search for a specific post (one which I know was linked by several blogs), you come up with nothing. But you can do a link search for a main blog URL, like this, and you will come up with previously unsearchable links, some of which don’t even show up on Technorati. Who knew someone had noticed my article on Taking a dump in the woods?

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